FREDERICK, Md. – “Our customers like variety and the element of surprise that comes from never knowing what great things they’ll find in our sales,” said Keith Spurgeon, owner of Mosby & Co. Auctions. “They won’t be disappointed with what’s in store at our November 10th event.”
The 600-lot auction covers dozens of collecting categories, including still and mechanical banks, toys, military and historical relics; and Americana in many of its most coveted forms. The session will begin with part one of a single-owner collection of 120 American and European figural ceramic still banks with a timeframe ranging from the late 19th century through the mid-1950s. Top lots include a glazed, hand-painted Staffordshire spaniel head and a scarce German figural jester-head bank.
Leading the cast-iron mechanical banks is an Australian Grenadiers bank that may be the first example to turn up in the United States. It is designed similarly to the “Creedmoor” bank but includes a dog companion for the soldier. A prototype English bell-ringing brass bank, “Mr. Winkle’s First Shot,” was fashioned from an inkwell and depicts a hunter and a soldier that pops up when a coin is inserted.
Other mechanical banks include a Teddy and Bear, Artillery and a mystery bank discovered in California that displays writing in both Japanese and English. “We can’t determine whether it was made in America for the Japanese market or vice versa,” Spurgeon said. Made of embossed, copper-flashed tin, it has a paper-litho dial and a wheel that spins through the days of the week.
Tin toy highlights include a boxed Hans Eberl Topsy Turvy Tom wind-up car and boxed Gunthermann Fokker tri-motor. An appealing boxed French Tivoli Star marble-launching game comes with six cloth-dressed clowns with composition heads and wood bodies.
A cast-iron “Remember the Maine” cannon fires real ammunition, and at 13½ inches, is the second-largest size in which this toy was made. Also in the sale are a late-18th-century cannon and several brass patterns, including a pattern for a cannon with patriotic eagle theme that is pictured in Louis Hertz’s book “The Toy Collector.” In the auction, it is paired with an actual example of the correct cannon.
Being based in a part of Maryland that has a rich Civil War history, Spurgeon has the opportunity to source important mid-19th-century memorabilia for his sales. An example is the 34-star American Flag in the Great Star pattern that dates to 1861-63. Made of printed silk and archivally mounted, the flag measures 22½ by 24 inches (sight).
Dated July 27, 1865, a presentation photo album given by Civil War soldier Capt. Milton Morris of the 14th Tennessee Infantry to his sister “Miss Morris” contains a number of fascinating images from the period. Included are photos of Capt. Morris in full uniform with sword, his relatives, and several non-uniformed soldiers from the 14th Tennessee.
Two interesting lots from the War of 1812 include a commission signed by James Madison and Sgt. James McCulley’s roster book listing the soldiers, drills and other daily activities of the Frederick Town Blues, a local Maryland militia. Another significant entry is an untouched 1864 Trenton musket that passed by descent through a single family.
A New England collection produced a magnificent 17-inch-square needlepoint that comes with a certificate of entry from the April 1, 1864 Metropolitan Fair, a fundraiser sponsored by the U.S. Sanitary Commission, predecessor to the Red Cross. The needlework has bullion embellishment and depicts a cannon with crossed American Flags, with leaves and vines adorning each corner.
An extraordinary aviation archive pertains to the career of Army Air Corps pilot Fred Gorenflo, who served with the Allied Expeditionary Force in World War I before earning his military flying certification in 1922. The archive includes goggles, a helmet, compass, logbook, sterling silver and gold flying wings, pilot’s license and 80+ images shot by Gorenflo while an army cadet at Brooks Field in Texas. The photos depict other pilots, airplanes, zeppelins and even aviation crash scenes. The militaria section also includes a few World War I uniforms, a pilot’s uniform and Civil War ephemera.
Poster lots include an example advertising a McCormick reaper and an 1893 Red Star Line steamship poster that depicts the “Westerland,” a combination steamship/sailing ship, cruising into New York Harbor. Leading the 50 circus posters is a rare Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey production touting Col. Tim McCoy and his Wild West Show.
Mosby & Co. will also present 11 fresh-to-the-market carnival sideshow banners painted by legendary genre artist Fred Johnson. Titles include Monster Museum, The Woman in the Coffin, Plasteena [a contortionist] and Ventriloquist. A 1950s Snap Wyatt banner advertises Hoppy and Mignon – a duo described as a “frog boy and penguin girl.”
A choice selection of advertising, country store and primitive items will be offered. The lineup includes two large 1898 seed and grain bins, an 1850s postmaster’s desk from Patapsco, Md., and a circa-1905 two-sided painted wood folk art sign emblazoned “Livery and Garage.” Another elusive American treasure – one of two known examples – is the 30-inch chalk countertop cigar store Indian promoting “Our Prophet Cigars – The Smoke of Peace.”
Mosby & Co.’s Nov. 10 auction will commence at 10 a.m. Eastern Time. For additional information: Tel. 240-629-8139, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Online: www.mosbyauctions.com